I’ll start this post off a little serious, as I can’t be the only person vexed by this issue. What do you do when you love a place, when a place is absolutely dear to your heart, but that place is filled with history with someone with whom you no longer share such feelings (to put it charitably)? Well, one way of looking at things is to treat the place as “poisoned” by those memories. That would be pretty unfortunate though, wouldn’t it? It’s only your loss at this point. Maybe there is some middle ground, but what I see soundly on the other side of perspective is replacing those old memories with new ones. It’s restorative. A reclamation. Done right, it certainly seems healthier than missing out on places and things that bring you joy.
But I digress. While Japan has been a yearly and sometimes more than yearly ritual for quite some time, the last time I purchased a rail pass was 2008. Some time has gone by since doing this basic itinerary. I’ve done a whole lot of traveling in the interim. I have to say that as a general statement I’ve enjoyed doing the tourist highlights of Japan even more this time around. Maybe it was a combination of being a little older, more experienced, and having more pleasant company along for the journey. Nevertheless, this was a relaxing and restorative trip, done with minimal day-to-day planning. Japan is like that though. Takamatsu was a new destination for us and a real hidden gem, both the park and castle. It proved to be a mutual favorite when the trip was over.
Going forward, each trip may look a little different, but I’ll keep up the pace as best as I’m able.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto... Just as I remember from a decade ago... hot and swarming with tourists. Nevertheless, it's stunning.
Ryoan-Ji, Kyoto. Being able to appreciate the quiet simplicity, beauty in the irregularity... I don't think I cared for the place as much 15 years ago.
Fushimi Inari, Kyoto
Getting to this particular vista was much, much nicer than in 2006. With the right company, this area makes for some great day hiking, but make sure to bring some drinks.
Great Buddha Hall, Nara
Great Buddha Hall, Nara
Kiyumizudera - 7/23/19
You're supposed to come to Nara for the history and temples and blah blah... but you're probably going to mostly remember the crazy ass deer and feeding them crackers.
Turns out, if you have the restraint, the deer are "trained" to "bow" for their crackers.
A couple of "good boys"
Hiroshima was a quick day trip that was added in after we were able to make it through the Kyoto itinerary quicker than expected. This is easy to do with a rail pass and doesn't need to be an overnighter.
Dotonbori food street... came hungry to graze at multiple spots for dinner. Definitely the way to make a quick stop in Osaka.
Primed for a win at the arcade
E233 "Marine Liner" train to Takamatsu takes you over multiple waterways. Loved this so much that this nerd spent forever in Akiba tracking down the Tomix model version of this train.
Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu... this is probably the "postcard" spot to grab a picture. This place is very large and the spot where you get this particular view is pretty easy to miss.
"Love" hedge in Ritsurin
Ritsurin garden in Takamatsu
Takamatsu Castle (front)
Taiko drum festival at Tamamo Park, Takamatsu Castle grounds
Drummers played over multiple days, large crowds late into the evening. We stayed for maybe a half-dozen sets.
View from top floor, narrow opening in Takamatsu Castle.
Demon Ramen - This is what "extra" baby corn looks like